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Geology Transparency
View and query 1:625 000 and 1:50 000 scale digital geological maps.
Virtual borehole and section viewer for selected 3D geological models.
View the National Geoscience Data Centre collection of onshore scanned boreholes, shafts and well records.
View UK earthquakes by date.
Surface Geology

Superficial deposits are the youngest geological deposits formed during the most recent period of geological time, the Quaternary, which extends back about 2.6 million years from the present.

Bedrock geology is a term used for the main mass of rocks forming the Earth and present everywhere, whether exposed at the surface in outcrops or concealed beneath superficial deposits.
Bedrock geology and Superficial deposits combined into a single map.
Visible geology:
1:625 000 scale
More on digital geology
Create Horizontal Section

Enter elevation (in metres) relative to sea level:
depth (in metres) below ground level:
Enter number of pixels. This is the number of pixels across the resulting image and not the cell size:

Geology of Britain viewer

The Geology of Britain viewer combines a number of key British Geological Survey data products in a single viewer. To facilitate this, the viewer can operate in one of four modes:
Surface Geology
3D Models
Borehole Scans
Earthquake Timeline
To switch modes, use the 'Surface Geology', '3D Models', 'Borehole Scans' and 'Earthquake Timeline' buttons located under the banner.

Surface Geology mode

In this mode, the viewer displays either bedrock geology, superficial deposits or a combined map showing both bedrock geology and the overlying superficial deposits (the default). More geological layers (artificial ground, faults, mass movements) are available through a WMS service.

Click on the map to bring up an information window giving details of the geology at that location. If you are viewing the combined geology map, clicking on either 'Bedrock geology' or 'Superficial deposits' in the title bar of this information window allows you to toggle between the two results. Click on the 'Further details' link to open the BGS Lexicon of Named Rock Units.

Click on the geology key button to view a key of the currently visible geology. Click on the rock name to open the BGS Lexicon of Named Rock Units.

At the full extent, 1:625 000 scale geology is displayed. Zoom in to switch to 1: 50 000 scale geology. The scale of the currently displayed geology is shown. Zooming in too far will cause the geology to switch off entirely. These scale levels are required to view boreholes in the borehole scans mode.

5% of 1:50 000 scale data is unavailable for England, Scotland and Wales.
Only 1:625 000 scale data is available for Northern Ireland.

3D Models mode

Select the 3D models mode to drill virtual boreholes or draw virtual cross-sections and sections through a geological model in selected areas of the UK; reflecting a range of geological settings. This tool offers a glimpse into how geological models will be increasingly made accessible via web browsers without the need for additional software to be installed by the user.

To interrogate a model, first choose a model of interest from the drop down list. The map will then zoom to that model.

To place a borehole: Click on the 'Drill Borehole' button and then click inside the model's grid at your area of interest.

To draw a cross-section: Click on the 'Draw Cross-section' button and then click inside the model's grid at your start position. Continue single-clicking to create a line-of-section. Double click to finish.

To create a horizontal section: Click on the 'Horizontal Section' button and then click anywhere inside the model. A popup appears with input fields for depth and number of pixels. It is possible to enter depth relative to sea level (this can be a positive value for depth above, a negative value for depth below or 0 ) or depth below ground level (positive value only). Enter the number of pixels (nRows X nCols) you want in the resulting image. The value of 75 is set as a default, but this can be changed. The higher the resolution, the longer it takes to query the model and generate the image. Click on Generate Section button to generate the virual cross section.

This virtual borehole and section viewer is based on a prediction of the geological sequence that would be encountered in a vertical borehole or section drilled at this location and should not be used as a replacement for site investigation. The total depth of the borehole or section and the level to which the succession is subdivided is based on 3D geological modelling and may not represent the complete vertical borehole or section. Lithological information is generalised for each geological unit, and local conditions may vary. For comprehensive information of the Geology at this point or line, please use the BGS GeoReport service.

Borehole Scans mode

In this mode, boreholes are displayed on the map once you have zoomed in sufficiently. Boreholes are coloured according to their depth as indicated in the key. Click on a borehole of interest to view some basic information about that borehole and to access a link to view a scan of the borehole record.

Where boreholes are coloured black, we are unable to provide a direct link to the associated scanned borehole record. We may still be able to provide you with a borehole record via our GeoRecords Plus+ service. Please note, releasing confidential data can take significant time as the process involves third parties and may not always be successful. BGS will endeavour to facilitate the release of borehole records wherever possible.

Borehole scans terms and conditions

Earthquake Timeline mode

Select the Earthquake Timeline mode to view UK earthquakes over time. On selecting this mode, a time slider will appear at the bottom of the map.

Drag the minimum and maximum date tabs to view only earthquakes between (and including) these two dates. Use the Play, Pause, Next and Previous buttons to navigate along the time slider.

Left-click on an earthquake to return more details of that earthquake.

General Help: Navigation

Move around the map by the arrow buttons on the top left of the map or left-clicking and dragging the mouse in the direction you wish to travel. To zoom in or out of the map, use the plus and minus buttons on the top left of the map. Alternatively, you can use the mouse wheel to zoom in and out of the map. Holding the Shift key and dragging a rectangle allows you to zoom in to that extent.

Zoom to a Location

To zoom to a known location (e.g. a postcode or town), click on the 'Go to Location' button.

Change the Basemap

To choose between a selection of basemaps (including OpenStreetMap and the 1815 William Smith geology map) click on the 'Switch Basemap' button.

Geology Transparency

To change the transparency of the geology (in any mode) use the Geology Transparency slider on the top right of the map.

Further Help

For further help Email BGS.